Hysteria

Friday, September 30 th, 2016 at 00:09 am 

Hysteria

JOY REVIEW

Hysteria stars Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones and Rupert Everett. This is a story that comes from the same material as the play that was called The Vibrator Play. This is much better; as you know, I hated The Vibrator Play. I thought it was one, long, smutty joke about women, but this one was very smart and very clever and deals with the fact that the vibrator was actually invented and introduced in England at the time that hysteria was the diagnosis of 40% of women. The diagnosis wasn’t actually removed from the books until 1952, but the vibrator was used as a sort of huge breakthrough, so to speak, and up until today, it’s actually the number one sex toy. It’s been around since the middle 1800s and in fact, it looked like Queen Victoria may have used one. There we go. This is a story of how it got invented and how it was used, so to speak, and I just thought this was a delightful movie. Supposedly, the notion of hysteria is as old as the fourth century BCE. The first vibrators appeared to have come up in the 18th century, 18th to 19th century. And it’s based on a true story of a man who actually did invent the vibrator. The American invention was in 1869, he came up with a steam powered massage machine, but an English doctor invented his electric powered one in 1866, so there you go. Sigmund Freud wrote about hysteria in 1895, which I actually knew. You don’t have to care much about the history but it is a sexy, funny movie and Hugh Dancy, as I said, plays a young, forward looking physician who reads in scientific journals as opposed to most of his colleagues who sell used leeches, literally, and goes to live at the house of Jonathan Pryce who has two daughters. One, Felicity Jones, who seems to be the picture of English womanhood and plays piano and studies phrenology, which is the study of the bumps on people’s heads which was used to try to figure out their personality, and his wild daughter Maggie Gyllenhaal, who runs the settlement house. So this is kind of a romantic comedy, but it’s a period drama as well, and it’s also a history lesson. Four stars.

JOY METER